IT has been my privilege to know more or less intimately many of the men who have had so large a share in the history of our country, within the last half century, including all of the Presidents of the United States since Andrew Jackson, and most of the distinguished statesmen of America, many of whom have been my warm personal friends. I have been fortunate in hearing many of the famous orations which have passed into history both in Europe and America, among them that of Daniel Webster at the completion of Bunker Hill Monument in 1843, and of Henry Clay at Mobile in 1844.
When Hon. John A. Dix was canvassing the state of New York in 1844,1 was his companion and heard most of his addresses. Governor Dix was deeply interested in young men and found pleasure in telling them of his varied experiences as a soldier and statesman.
The second year of my rectorship in Rome my church would not accommodate my congregation, and we decided to build a new stone church. There was little wealth in the parish; and although the subscriptions were most generous, we were compelled to seek aid elsewhere. I conferred with Governor Dix, who was an influential vestryman of Trinity Church, New York, and made application to Trinity for a gift of one thousand dollars. Governor Dix was absent when the application was presented, and it was denied. In those days the affairs of Trinity Church were often brought before the legislature.
I procured a list of the vestry and obtained a letter from prominent politicians--Governor Seymour, Judge Denio, and others--to each one of them asking as a personal favor that Trinity Church would make the grant. I then sent in a new petition, and Governor Dix, who was present at the meeting, gave me a description of the deliberations. First, a vestryman arose and said, "I have received a letter from Governor------," and read it. Another arose and said, "I have received a letter from Judge------," and read it. This went on till five letters had been read, and then a vestryman got up with a smiling face, and said: "I suspect that we each have a letter in behalf of this application. I move that no more letters be read, but that the grant be made unanimously."
When I called upon Mr. Harrison, the venerable comptroller of Trinity, he exclaimed, "What do you mean by bringing all this political influence to bear on Trinity Church?"
I replied, "If you will read the parable of the unjust judge, you will learn the reason."
He smiled and answered, "I will forgive you if you will come and dine with me to-morrow."
This incident brought me into pleasant relations with the venerable Dr. Berrian and the assistant ministers of Trinity Church. The present beloved Rector of Trinity, the Rev. Dr. Morgan Dix, gave me the first money which I received for Church building in Minnesota. One of the most eloquent preachers whom I have known was the Rev. Dr. Francis Hawks, Rector of Calvary Church, New York; his sermons were marked by a peculiar pathos which revealed his lovely spirit. On one occasion he was urged to give up his wealthy parish for one in the South, and when he objected on the ground that the salary would not be sufficient to live on, he was gently reminded of the young ravens who, having neither storehouse nor barn, were fed by their Heavenly Father.
"Yes," answered the doctor, "but nothing was said about young Hawks."
The Rev. Dr. Alexander Vinton, Rector of Trinity Church, Boston, was another rare preacher, the burden of his sermons, "the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ." When a lay delegate at a meeting of the General Convention at Philadelphia, I asked the venerable Judge Chambers, the lay patriarch of the Convention, where he had attended church the previous day.
"I went to hear Dr. Vinton," he replied, "and he told from his great heart the story of Christ's love until my soul was moved to the depths, and I was lifted to the very bosom of the Saviour."
Hon. Hugh Davy Evans, the authority in all matters of legislature, was a wise interpreter of canons, and one of the generous hearts who delight in sharing with younger men the treasures of their minds.
I have many delightful and amusing memories of the older bishops. The great-hearted apostle, the Rt. Rev. James Henry Otey, Bishop of Tennessee, was a man of noble appearance. He was once making a missionary journey through Arkansas and the Indian Territory, and on his arrival at Natchez he said to the landlord of the hotel:--
"I have been travelling for a week, night and day, in a mail wagon, and I want a good room, for I am tired."
"I am sorry," answered the landlord, "but I think there is not a vacant room in Natchez; there is a horse-race, a Methodist Conference, and a political convention in the city, and every house is crowded. The only thing I can give you is a shake-down."
Then observing the bishop's tired face, he exclaimed:--
"Bishop, the best room in my house is rented to a noted gambler who usually remains out all night, and seldom gets in before breakfast. If you will take the risk, you shall have his room, but if he should come in I can promise you there will be a row."
The bishop decided to take the risk. At about four o'clock the gambler returned, and shaking the bishop angrily, exclaimed:--
"Get out of my room, or I'll soon put you out."
The bishop, the mildest of men, raised himself on one elbow so that it brought the muscles of his arm into full relief, and said quietly:--
"My friend, before you put me out, will you have the kindness to feel this arm?"
The man put his hand on the bishop's arm, and then said respectfully:--
"Stranger, you can stay."
The saintly Bishop of Mississippi, the Rt. Rev. William Mercer Green, was one of my dearest friends, and deeply interested in my Indian work. He was a disciple of the great Bishop Ravenscroft, of whose heroic labors he told me many stories.
Bishop Eastburn, of Massachusetts, was a pronounced Evangelical, and a martinet in rubrical observance. Upon one occasion Bishop H. W. Lee asked his brethren whether a bishop had the right to omit the preface in the confirmation office, and stated that it had been omitted by one of his brethren. Bishop Eastburn sprang to his feet and said:--
"Who would dare to violate the law of the Church?"
Bishop Bedell replied: "I have omitted the preface. When I confirmed two persons, one seventy and the other eighty years of age, I did not think the words, ' when children have come to years of discretion' applicable to the confirmation."
To which Bishop Eastburn replied, "I want to ask my young evangelical brother how he can say that any man has come to years of discretion until he has come to the Lord Jesus Christ."
The Rev. Father Dunn of New Jersey told me that when he was a student in Union College, Bishop Hobart came to Schenectady, and the Church boys called upon him. Dunn asked his classmate, Alonzo Potter, to accompany them. After a pleasant evening with the bishop, Dunn said to his friend, "Alonzo, what did you think of our bishop?"
Potter replied, "When I thought of his office and of the history behind him, Dunn, I felt that I would rather be a bishop of the Episcopal Church than to be the President of the United States." He was then an unbaptized youth whose father was a member of the Society of Friends.
Bishop Joseph P. B. Wilmer I knew intimately before the Civil War. He was a Virginian whose sympathies were with his people. For a time this separated him from the love of his parishioners of St. Mark's Church, Philadelphia. He felt this keenly, and I shall never forget his face one day when I was his guest, as he put his arms around me and exclaimed, "Thank God, there are no walls of separation at our Master's feet! "
At the meeting of the General Convention of the Church in Boston, the bishop was the guest of Mrs. Tudor on Beacon Street. Keturning to the house one morning by way of the Common, he saw a boy pitching pennies. He stood looking at him a moment, and then asked:--
"Are you a good boy?"
"Not so very good," was the answer. "I sometimes use cuss words."
"It is wrong to use cuss words, my boy," responded the bishop, "but it is honest for you to tell me this."
The boy replied, "It is a dirty dog who will tell lies."
The bishop studied the boy for a few moments, and then said:--
"My dear boy, I have a valuable package at the express office; the charges on it are six dollars. I do not want to walk so far, and if you will take this notice to the express company they will give you the package, which you can take to that house opposite, where I am staying. Here is the money to pay the charges, and here are fifty cents for yourself."
"All right, mister, I'll get it for you," answered the boy as he shot away.
When the bishop related this to Mrs. Tudor and her guests, they exclaimed:--
"Bishop, you haven't given six dollars to a street gamin to get a valuable package! Of course you will never see either again! Do get a police officer before it is too late! "
The bishop smiled, and quietly answered: "It is all quite right. He is a good boy."
While at dinner, a servant came in to say that a boy was waiting in the hall to speak to the bishop. Every one left the table to see the rara avis, who exclaimed as the bishop held out his hand:--
"Here is your package, mister, but you made a mistake. You did not see the fifty cents over the six dollars, in the fine print, and the elerk give me this paper to show you."
"But how did you get it? I gave you only six dollars," said the bishop.
"But you give me fifty cents for going," was the answer.
"But how did you know that you would get your fifty cents back again? "asked the bishop.
"Do you think I'm green?" came the reply. "Don't I know a man who'd trust a feller he'd never see'd afore with six dollars and a package was good for fifty cents any day? "
The bishop put his hands on the boy's head and said:--"My dear boy, I trusted you because you had an honest face. Keep it honest. Perhaps you have no friend but your Heavenly Father. Be a true manly boy; ask Him to help you, and He will care for you. Kneel down and I will give you my blessing."
As the little fellow knelt, the tears that glistened in the bishop's eyes were not the only ones, and I'll venture to say that the boy received something that day that he never forgot.
I recall the intense interest of this dear friend as I described after my first visit to Havana the terrible moral and religious conditions existing there and the services which I was permitted to hold. Mr. Jefferson Davis was present, and both men were deeply affected when I told them of the baptism of a dying Confederate officer and of his first and only communion.
One of the last acts of the bishop's life was to write a letter to one who had spoken unkindly of him, saying: "Had you known my heart you could never have used those words; and I write to tell you that I forgive them, lest, after I am dead, you may be unhappy because you had been unjust to an old bishop."
Another tender, pure soul was Bishop Harris of Michigan. He was a soldier of the Confederate army, and at the close of the Civil War entered the legal profession in which he attained much success; he became interested in the Church and decided to take Orders. At the time of the Lambeth Conference, in 1888, he was suddenly taken ill while preaching in Winchester Cathedral. It was thought to be merely a temporary indisposition, but it was followed by a second attack, and a week after the close of the Conference he passed away. Bishop Thompson and I were with him through his last illness and remained by his bedside until the end. By the kindness of Dean Bradley, the burial service was read in Westminster Abbey. Canon Westcott, then in Residence, asked me to preach in the Abbey on the following Sunday. There were many Americans present. My text was "If a man die, shall he live again." I well remember the peculiar solemnity of the occasion and the hushed sob which came as I spoke of that dear brother who, as a soldier, a jurist, a shepherd of Christ's flock, and as a leader in the Church, won all hearts. There have been few members of the House of Bishops whose words have been listened to with greater pleasure, for his love for Christ and men was manifest in every expression of his loving soul.
What a place Paradise must be, where so many of the sainted ones are waiting for our coming! Not a confused throng of nameless spirits, but where we shall know and be known in all the beatitude of a perfect recognition!
As I write, the face of my younger brother in the episcopate, Bishop Phillips Brooks, comes before me,--one who knew those among whom he ministered and with a great love longed to win all to his Master Jesus Christ. At his request, I was one of his presenters and laid hands on him in consecration. His election to the episcopate called forth fierce opposition, and it might have been supposed from the assaults made upon him that he was one of the heretics who denied the faith. These charges did not awaken in him the slightest alienation or bitterness. For myself, I have never had the shadow of a doubt that he was preeminently fitted to be the Bishop of Massachusetts.
My old friend, Dr. George C. Shattuck, one of the founders of the Church of the Advent, and a lay member of the Cowley Brotherhood, wrote me after the election:--
But there are subjects about which I want to talk with you,--the death of Bishop Paddock and the election of Dr. Phillips Brooks. The opposition to his confirmation seems to me very unwise. I know Massachusetts very well and I know Dr. Brooks very well, and I believe the prospect for good and successful work in this diocese was never so good as now. . . . Prayers went up diligently all over the diocese before the meeting of the convention, and before the election; and I must believe that they were answered, and must acquiesce in the election. . . . Bishop Brooks, while one of the foremost preachers in Massachusetts, was simple as a child. At the General Convention in Baltimore, several of the bishops were speaking of the growing indifference to public worship, and Bishop Brooks said:--
"It is a mistake to think that there is a growing neglect of public worship. I have been in most of the parishes of my diocese, and have always found full congregations."
He looked surprised when we smiled.
The following letters show the love and humility of his pure heart:--
233 CLARENDON STREET, BOSTON. May 12th, 1891.
Dear Bishop Whipple: I thank you with all my heart for your telegram and for your letter. It makes me very glad to know that you are glad that I am probably to be among the bishops. You have always been very good to me. I count upon your goodness still.
The work looks interesting and attractive,--the same in essence as that which I have tried to do for the last thirty years. It will be a delight to try to do it still in the new way, with the old strength of Our Father in whom I hope that I have learned to trust.
The new association with the bishops, I shall welcome heartily. With you, dear bishop, it will be good indeed to be more closely united.
And so I dare to hope, as I know that you have prayed, that God's blessing may be upon it all and that, at least, I may do no grievous harm.
I shall always value your most kind greeting and I am,
more than ever,
Dear Bishop Whipple: Will you join with Bishop Clark in presenting me for consecration at Trinity Church, Boston, on Wednesday, the 14th of October.
Bishop Williams has already asked you, but I want to make it also my most urgent and affectionate personal request.
It will make my whole Episcopate better if you will do it, and I shall thank you always with all my heart.
I dare to hope that you will if you can, in memory of your constant kindness for these many years.
I am spending a few days here with my brother, but my address is always at Boston.
Faithfully your friend,
Of the departed, there are few whom I loved more dearly than the Rt. Rev. William H. Odenheimer, Bishop of New Jersey. We first met when he was rector of St. Peter's Church, Philadelphia, and from that hour we loved each other. He was a devout thinker, a wise pastor, and a most instructive preacher. We were consecrated the same day, he in St. Paul's Church and I in St. James's Church, Richmond. I had his full sympathy in the early trials of our Indian work. The following letter shows the beating of his great heart:--
BURLINGTON, November 23rd, 1871.
Dearest Bishop Whipple: It is far into the night, and I am weary with reading and writing; but I must tell you how sincerely I thank you, for your thoughtful and most judicious address before the Minnesota State Teachers' Association.
Your words on the subject of Christian education deserve to be written in gold; for like a stream of liquid gold they seemed to flow from a heart kindled with the fire of God's Holy Spirit.
The only truth that can sweeten the fountain head of academical culture, and give real dignity to popular or collegiate education is God's changeless truth, that which we have heard in God's Word from the beginning, that man, made, redeemed, and sanctified by God, bears upon his body, soul, and spirit the mysterious impress of the image and likeness of God; and that the end of education, in all departments, is to develop this divine prerogative, thereby fitting him for his royal position of self-control and delegated headship here, and for his ineffable glory, through the God-Man, of reigning with Christ hereafter.
With loving regards, I am,
Tour affectionate brother in Christ,
W. H. ODENHEIMER.
After the General Convention of 1862, Bishop Williams invited Bishop Odenheimer and myself to visit him in Middletown. Our hearts were full, for it was in the dark days of our Civil War, and to me doubly dark owing to the Sioux massacre of that year. After dinner, as we sat in his study, dear Bishop Williams said:--
"It isn't often that we have the opportunity to have a good talk and I propose that after prayers we do not look at our watches, but make a night of it, and each tell everything that is on his heart."
Bishop Williams told the story of the Indians in New England, and Bishop Odenheimer the story of the Moravian missions, and I gave the history of our dealings with the Chippewa and Sioux, of the work to be done, of the difficulties to be encountered, and of my hopes that light would come in spite of the gloom.
It was five o'clock in the morning when we separated,--a night never to be forgotten, and one remembered by me for the love of those great hearts, for no one but God could know what such love was to me in those dark days.
I remember with pleasure some of the old clergy who witnessed a good confession in the days when the Church was spoken against.
Father Stokes, a clergyman in western New York, was one of these. Bishop de Lancey, who had visited Lockport to consecrate a church, was asked to send a clergyman to the Presbyterian Church for the same Sunday. Several who were asked declined, and finally the bishop said:--"Father Stokes, you will have to go."
The bishop and clergy dined at the house of my uncle, Judge Eansom; but Father Stokes did not appear until dinner was over.
"I hope that you have not been preaching all this time," said the bishop.
"Yes," was the answer, "most of the time. They know very little about the Church, and so I preached on Apostolic Succession. When I had finished, an elder came up to the pulpit and said that my services would not be required in the afternoon. I told the congregation what the elder had said, and then informed them that as I could not come in the afternoon, and that as the sermon which they had just heard was one of two to be preached in sequence, I would now deliver the second one. And, Bishop, they all stayed!"
Dominie Johnson, as he was called, was a shepherd of the poor, and it was his custom to wait at the factory door at closing time to speak a kind word to the operatives. One day an infidel among them said:--
"Dominie, you believe in the devil; I would like to see the devil."
"Have a little patience, my friend," was the answer.
Again, a clergyman of another communion said, pointing to a picture of a drowning man to whom the sailors in a ship were throwing a rope:--
"Dominie, that man can pray without a book."
"Yes," was the reply, "but you see he is not in the ship."
They were days of conflict, but so consecrated were the lives of those great hearts that love overshadowed the differences. A venerable clergyman once said to me after some sharp strife had been going on:--
"Bishop, some of our brethren have been men of war from their youth, and when our Heavenly Father sees fit to call them to Paradise, we shall have peace."
There were few men to whom I was more attached by bonds of affection than to the Rt. Rev. Arthur Cleveland Coxe,--a poet, a most loyal son of his country, and a champion of the Church he so dearly loved. While I was rector at Rome, a clergyman of another communion wrote an article denouncing Dr. Coxe for a lecture which he had delivered upon Charles I., and saying that his next eulogy would undoubtedly be upon Archbishop Laud or Judas Iscariot. I wrote a defence of Dr. Coxe, which led to an interesting and lifelong correspondence and friendship between my dear brother and myself.